Cronyism on Steroids?
When it was discovered that only four out of sixty contracts signed with a pair of external consultants went out to tender, New Zealand MP Murray McCully accused the Health Ministry of “cronyism on steroids”. Now he reckons the Auditor-General’s report on the matter portrays a saga of “incompetence on a monumental scale”.
Tell us what you really think, Murray.
The Report doesn’t paint a pretty picture of procurement policy compliance within the Ministry. Amongst Auditor-General Kevin Brady’s many findings are these gems:
- Most officials did not have a copy of the procurement policy.
- Most officials were somewhat vague as to where they might locate a copy.
- There was a general lack of awareness among officials as to what the policy actually required.
What conclusions can we draw from all this? Perhaps the obvious one is that producing a nice fat policy on something is no guarantee that anyone will follow it.
So how do you get people to follow procurement policy?
Despite making 17 recommendations for improvement, the Auditor-General missed one obvious point. That making people aware of a policy is still no guarantee they will follow it. This is particularly true when the policy is long and complex, and the time available to learn and understand it is limited. Another approach, and one which some government agencies are starting to adopt, is to develop procurement systems that guide users naturally toward compliant outcomes.